Fr Con marks forty fulfilling years

Fr Con McLaughlin enjoying a joke at his 40th anniversary mass in Carndonagh.  (1406JB10)
Fr Con McLaughlin enjoying a joke at his 40th anniversary mass in Carndonagh. (1406JB10)

Con Mc Laughlin was born in Greencastle in County Donegal and studied for the priesthood in St Kieran’s College, Kilkenny where he was ordained in 1973.

His first appointment was to Leckpatrick where he worked for one and a half years before being appointed to Long Tower parish in Derry city in 1975.

And that is where he lived and worked for the next 28 years. These were the days of ‘The Troubles’ and a day rarely passed without Fr McLaughlin being called on to cope with some kind of emergency.

One of his most prolonged problems was the transport of children from the country to the Long Tower school - hijackings and bombings played havoc with the bus service and often left young children stranded in the city with no way of getting home - a problem which he solved in his usual personal and very practical way.

He drove the minibus belonging to the Youth Club out to the country every morning and ferried all the pupils into the school, and every afternoon he collected the same children and ferried them safely to their homes in the country. He continued to provide this service, without reward or recognition, 
for the next 
TEN YEARS.

In the meantime he coped with all the turmoil of parish life in the city in those days.

He was often called upon to attend the victims of shootings or bombings – an ordeal that got no easier with the passing years, as you watched a young man choking on his own blood and desperately gasping for breath..

He single handedly rescued a young policeman who had become isolated from his colleagues and on more than one occasion rescued families who were being held hostage in their own homes.

Alongside all this bedlam, he rescued St Columb’s Hall from certain destruction.

For years the building had gone without repair or maintenance and no one wanted to take on the enormous task of restoring it to something of its former glory. Over the years he not merely cured the defects but restored it to a level of luxury and artistry that it had not known for a long time, but he also raised the money to pay for the entire project.

Even in the midst of difficult times he never forgot his true purpose as a priest, and if a call came in the middle of the night for the services of a priest you could be sure that Fr Con would be first to respond.

In 1995 he took over as Administrator of Long Tower parish and remained in 
that post until 2003. He was appointed to Buncrana in 2003 and finally was appointed Parish Priest of 
Carndonagh in 2008.